Geek Out: Dean O’Gorman of the Hobbit
Ahead of Melbourne’s Supanova Pop Culture Expo next weekend, Dean O’Gorman gives Angela Allan a behind-the-scenes insight for his role as Fili the dwarf in The Hobbit.
How did it feel to get the part of Fili the dwarf?
Well, I’d auditioned for The Hobbit months and months earlier, so I’d sort of given up on getting through. They called my agent out of blue and said they were interested in me for a role. So they flew me down to Wellington [New Zealand] for an audition and the producer wanted to have a quick chat to me and I asked, “Do I have lines?” and she said, “Yes, you have a few lines,” and I said, “Is it a good role?” and she said, “Yeah, you’re in the whole thing,” and I was like, oh! I didn’t even realise until I did the audition that this was a good role. I had no idea. I had no idea what was going on. I thought I was going to be fourth goblin from the left or something. I was like, holy shit! I couldn’t believe it. It didn’t feel real for me for quite a while.
Were you a fan of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit novel?
I’d seen The Lord of the Rings movies and I enjoyed those and I had read The Hobbit book as a kid, but that was it really. I wasn’t really knowledgeable about the Tolkien universe at all.
Is this your first time as being part of a pop-culture expo like Supanova?
Yes, it is! I’ve got no idea what to expect. I mean, I’ve done a couple of smaller conventions in New Zealand but I have a feeling they aren’t quite as big as this one.
You know David Hasslehoff is coming…
Oh, awesome! He is going to sing?
Maybe we can encourage him to belt out a tune for us, I’m sure he’d be cool with that…
Oh, yeah! That would be great.
Well, you might not sing, but in addition to acting, you’re also an artist…
Yeah, I grew up with it. My dad’s a painter, so I’ve always painted and taken photos as well as act. I mean, that was the plan to become a graphic designer or painter, but acting ended up taking a lot of my focus. I lived in Los Angeles for a couple of years, and to be honest, I had a lot of downtime [laughs], but I started painting again. It ended up that my paintings got used in Curb Your Enthusiasm for Larry David’s bedroom, so I ended up getting heaps of work from that. It was inspiring, so at a time when acting wasn’t paying the bills, painting started to pick up. Photography is also something I’ve always done and I’ve taken photos of my friends for their agents and it grew from that. Last year while I was doing The Hobbit, I did an exhibition in Wellington based on photojournalism of the ‘70s and used a lot of local guys from the cast.
Do you have a favourite scene in The Hobbit?
I loved watching the goblins scene when it was finished. Filming it was pretty gnarly because it was one of the hottest sets; I mean, you have flames burning and people running around wearing rubber. So it was quite a hot experience!
Your costumes are amazing as well. How much work goes into making them look so authentic for the Tolkien world?
There is so much work that goes into every single part of the costume. They have a special department that is called the break-in department that specialises in making sure the gear looked worn in and old. Our boots are made, and then all scuffed so they look like we have been wearing them for months.
And your swords are very impressive too…
Swords are cool! I love those swords.
Did you have any training with the swords?
I had to do a bit of stunt training in terms of learning how to use two swords. It’s like juggling really, you have to get your left and right sides of your brain and body working together. Once you get it, it’s not too bad. I’d never fought with two swords before; it’s not something you do in your normal life. What made it challenging it we had rubber hands as dwarves so gripping the handles was difficult. A lot of times, swords would go flying out of hands! As a wrap gift, they gave me my two steel swords – they are so heavy but very beautiful